The Student Senate needs a transportation commission

Student voices are not part of transportation decision-making

Maddie Kasper

More stories from Maddie Kasper

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Parking lot and pothole-ridden road across from Oak Ridge Hall.

I have been covering Student Senate meetings for the past few months and I have gained an understanding of the different commissions and the purposes they serve on campus, but it feels like there is something missing— a transportation commission. 

When talking about transportation on campus, UW-Eau Claire’s infamous parking issues come to mind.

My first experience with campus parking was when I tried to purchase a resident parking permit the summer before my first semester. 

I set a reminder for when the permits went on sale and eagerly logged onto the parking portal, but the portal crashed twice before I could buy a permit.

I spent that semester on a permit waitlist and relying on generous friends when I needed to go somewhere off-campus. 

When I returned for spring semester after winter break with my permit figuratively in hand, I was introduced to parking on campus – expanses of parking lots with seemingly no available spots.

Students are not the only ones who have difficulty with parking on campus. Faculty parking permits are oversold so faculty and staff trying to park in the Hibbard parking lot need to get to work early, or risk the lot filling up and needing to park across the river in the Haas parking lot.

A transportation commission could improve parking not just for students, but also faculty and staff.

It is frustrating to wait for the bus going to upper campus while watching several buses headed towards Water Street with half of the seats filled. The upper campus bus is inevitably overcrowded with every seat filled and students standing in the aisle.

A transportation commission wouldn’t have complete control over this situation because the buses are operated by Eau Claire City Transit, but they could work with the city to make bussing work better for students.

University Drive, the street housing most of the dorms, is not maintained well and is filled with potholes.

Everyday when I walk down to lower campus for classes, I pass the chunk that has been missing from the steps for an indiscernible amount of time. This missing step has the potential to be a serious health hazard and leaves the university open to liability.

None of the experiences I described are unique to me. It’s time to recognize the widespread transportation issues on campus and do something to fix them.

Now creating a transportation commission wouldn’t magically solve all of these problems, but it would get students involved in decision-making about transportation on campus.

A transportation commission could explore repaving University Drive, fixing the steps, lowering the price of parking tickets, building parking ramps and more, while no current commissions have that jurisdiction.

Chapter four, section four of the senate bylaws gives Student Senate the authority to “create and maintain standing commissions to serve its enumerated and implied responsibilities pursuant to the legally recognized roles of student government and rights of students.”

The Student Senate elections are April 18-20 and I hope you vote for senators who are determined to uplift student voices and fix issues that students care about.

There is no question that students are afflicted with transportation issues, the question is whether the senate will do something about it.

Kasper can be reached at [email protected]